Following a violent protest over the weekend in Yekepa, Nimba County, by residents of the area, Arcelor Mittal has resumed full mining operations, production, processing and transporting of iron ore from the Tokadi Mines in Nimba County.
Full production activities resumed at about 6 p.m. on Saturday when the Direct Shipping Ore Crushing Plant, which was damaged during a rampage on the mining facilities, was repaired by a combination of Liberian and expatriate engineers of the company.
So far, 11,445 metric tons of iron ore, a slight increase over the June average, were confirmed by the ArcelorMittal Management to have been processed for transport to the Port City of Buchanan by rail.
Arcelor Mittal Operations Manager, Prayaga Prasad, who led Information Minister Lewis Brown and a team of journalists on a tour of the main mining facility on Saturday, disclosed that the company was pleased to continue its activities after order was restored to the mining town by security forces.
He pledged his company’s continued support to the development of Liberia, and praised the government for its quick response to restore order and security to the mining facility.
In remarks, Information Minister Brown thanked the management of Arcelor Mittal for retaining faith in the government to continue to provide a secure environment for doing business in Liberia.
He informed the management that like all governments, although the Liberian Government may not be able to stop the commission of all crimes, criminals would not be permitted to operate without the required legal consequences.
“The immediate restoration of order and resumption of production activities in Yekepa signal that although our resolve will be tested by individuals who wish to reverse the progress and taint the image of our country, there are more Liberians and partners of progress who are willing to continue on this important journey to our country’s recovery for shared prosperity, in an environment of peace and security,” Brown said.
The Minister informed the management, staff and employees of Arcelor Mittal that a number of arrests had already been made, and that an investigation leading to the prosecution of individuals responsible for the damage and looting of the mining facilities are ongoing.
He assured the management of Arcelor Mittal of government’s continued protection as well as the support and goodwill of all law-abiding citizens.
Meanwhile, Brown has assured the Management of Arcelor Mittal mining company that government will spare no effort in bringing to justice those who vandalized the company’s property and took hostage some of its senior staff.
Minister Brown said those involved as well as the masterminds of this unlawful act will be made to answer before a court of law, stressing that there will be no compromise.
He made the statement Saturday at a roundtable discussion with the Management of Arcelor Mittal on the recent act of vandalism that took place at the company’s mining plant in which major property of the company were severely damaged.
According to him, the government will ensure that not only will those who are responsible answer for the crimes they have committed, but that there will be no recurrence of such either at Arcelor Mittal or anywhere else in the country.
He noted that the act carried out is “a very serious threat” to those doing business in Liberia and that government will ensure that it breaks such threats by bringing the perpetrators to justice and putting into place additional security measures.
“It is the responsibility of the government to protect those who abide by the law and punish those who violate the law,” Brown pointed out.
What transpired in Yekepa, he said, “is not just a Nimba County thing; rather, it is about the entire country” and as such, it will be treated as a national issue, adding “the government, including the Nimba County Legislative Caucus, are united about this, and we will succeed.”
He assured the company that the government and people of Liberia cherish the relationship with the company and will ensure that the relationship is maintained, noting “the operation of Arcelor Mittal has brought opportunities and life to Nimba in particular and Liberia in general, something we cannot compromise.”
Few days ago, some residents of the company’s concession area armed with single barrel riffles, stormed the Mining Plant, where they vandalized, burned and looted properties belonging to the company.
They also held hostage some senior members of the company for two days, but they were later released by officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police that intervened to restore order.